December 9, 2022

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Investors say judge rules Musk’s tweets about making Tesla private are false

Investors say judge rules Musk's tweets about making Tesla private are false

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Wojdick, and Elon Musk attend the inauguration ceremony of the new Tesla Giga plant for electric vehicles in Gruenheide, Germany, March 22, 2022. Patrick Bloll/Pool via Reuters

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A federal judge has ruled that Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk’s 2018 tweets about obtaining secured funding for the company were privately wrong, according to court filings by Tesla investors who sued the billionaire over the tweets.

The lawsuit said the court ruled on April 1 that Musk’s 2018 tweets were “false and misleading.” She added that the court “found that he made these statements recklessly knowing that they were false.”

In a filing Friday, investors in the electric car maker asked US District Judge Edward Chen to block the famed businessman from his “public campaign for providing a contradictory and false narrative regarding” his 2018 tweets.

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Musk claimed Thursday that funding had already been secured to take Tesla private in 2018. He settled with US securities regulators over what the agency found false, paid fines and agreed to have a lawyer approve some of his tweets before they were posted. Read more

The April 1 decision was not on the court’s agenda.

The cases will be at the center of a jury trial in May as investors seek damages for the tweets.

The lawsuit states that Musk “used his fame and notoriety to sway public opinion to his advantage, having fought a battle in the press after his courtroom defeat.”

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She said Musk’s recent comments risk confusing potential jurors and harming the jury’s decision on the amount of damages owed by Musk.

Musk is trying to void his agreement with the SEC, accusing the agency of harassing him with investigations.

Alex Spiro, Musk and Tesla’s attorney, reiterated Saturday that it was true that Musk was considering acquiring Tesla in 2018 and had funding for the move. “All that remains after half a decade is the lawyers of random plaintiffs trying to make money and others trying to prevent this fact from emerging, all at the expense of freedom of expression,” he said.

The case is in Tesla Inc Securities Litigation, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-04865.

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Reporting from Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.